Fort Worth Celebrates 35th Anniversary with Reggio Emilia, Italy

October 29, 2020 marked a cold evening in Fort Worth, Texas, as residents bundled up in cars parked throughout the Coyote Drive-In Theater to celebrate Fort Worth’s 35-year anniversary with Reggio Emilia, Italy. The evening began with a special video message from Mayor Betsy Price and Reggio’s Mayor Luca Vecchi shown on the big screen. To cap off the evening, the crowd was then treated to pizza and the 2003 film – The Italian Job.

Our friends in Reggio also held a celebration of their own in Italy for this long and fruitful relationship. In a recent letter from Mayor Vecchi to Mayor Price, Vecchi made these comments:

“In a challenging period like this, we strongly believe that international exchanges and collaborations are an important lever for the relaunch of our community, economy and the values we believe in. I wish you a happy anniversary to you hoping to see you next year.”

35 years ago, Fort Worth Mayor Bob Bolen and Reggio Emilia Mayor Ugo Benassi signed the official documents to establish Fort Worth’s first sister city relationship with Reggio Emilia. The Reggio City Chair at that time, Mary Palko, then took the reigns and the first inbound exchange took place when 135 runners from Reggio Emilia participated in the Cowtown Marathon. Later that year Fort Worth Sister Cities received its first national recognition – the Readers Digest award for Best New Program – and that’s how it all began.

As our very first sister city, Reggio Emilia holds a special place in our hearts. Originally a Roman fortress situated in the Apennine foothills of Northern Italy, this historic city is home to spectacular cathedrals and palazzos dating back to the 12th century, the Municipal Theater and the famous Parmigiano Reggiano cheese factory.

Our relationship with this amazing city offers equally amazing opportunities for Fort Worth’s citizen diplomats. In addition to exchanges featuring the daily life and culture of Italy, Italian cooking and language classes and visits to the nearby city of Florence, the program is recognized for developing unique first-ever exchanges, including:

  • Tricolore Youth Sports Games, a youth-based version of the Olympics for which Fort Worth is the sole United States participant
  • A Handicap Life Skills Symposium
  • International Wheelchair Basketball Tournaments
  • Annual student exchanges
  • Smithsonian’s U.S. Tour of Reggio Emilia’s education model
  • Cutting and quarter horse training, breeding and competition
  • Stage, craft and performance arts training programs
  • Marathons
  • Culinary, hotel, and professional internships
  • Fashion and artisan industry programs

You can view a compilation of several short videos from participants and leaders of many exchanges and programs over the last 35 years between these two cities here.

Sister Cities June Update

While in-person relationship building and international travel are curtailed right now, the exchanges and outreach of Fort Worth Sister Cities are still just as vibrant as ever due to the commitment and dedication of our many partners, members and volunteers. They understand this work is important – now more than ever before.

Our youth have been conducting virtual meetings with students in Budapest, Hungry; Nîmes, France; Reggio Emilia, Italy; and Trier, Germany this spring and have shown that we can still create relationships – only in a different way. Students from these cities have been able to connect with Fort Worth youth exchanging information about what life is like in their communities during this quarantine era. Their voices were enthusiastic and attitudes eager to continue virtual connections, despite zoom fatigue they experienced from their online classwork.

Even our Fort Worth Youth International local group are meeting virtually and have created a community service project that they could participate in from their own living rooms. They are making cards with original artwork and messages of inspiration for families who are part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County.

The premier high school International Leadership Academy and Jr. Academy are also going virtual with students organizing weekly games like charades, scavenger hunts, and leadership building activities throughout the summer with students from Fort Worth’s nine sister cities. And, we’ve created adult virtual dinners and entertainment with some of our sister cities to provide cultural insights.

Fort Worth and its nine sister cities are also helping each other on how to best reopen our communities and energize our economies. Recently we coordinated a virtual economic relations meeting with officials in Toluca, Mexico with participation from the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, City of Fort Worth Economic Development Department, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce arranged by Councilman Carlos Flores. We can always learn from each other and these longtime partnerships are proving to be valuable during this time.

It is a different time for us for sure, but we are determined to press on and continue to connect globally. We may not be experiencing the usual exciting greetings and departures at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport but we are traveling through the skies in a different way – via Zoom. We’ll pick right back up in 2021 to renew and create even more connections here in Fort Worth and around the world.

International Connections Thrive in Fort Worth

Fort Worth, Texas – Fort Worth Sister Cities International Celebrates its 35th Anniversary

Now 35 years old, Fort Worth Sister Cities International has brought international attention to Fort Worth with its nine sister cities in China, Eswatini, France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, and Mexico.

Last month, they launched the public campaign of the Members Circle of Giving by announcing Charlie Powell, President of Ciera Bank, as the 2020 Campaign Chair.

The Members Circle of Giving is a thriving network of individuals, organizations, corporations and community leaders committed to expanding global relationships for peace and prosperity at home and abroad. Lead donors to this year’s campaign will be recognized at the Mayor’s International Dinner & Global Awards on Nov. 12.

“Due to the generosity of corporate and individual donors, $196,000 has already been pledged and Sister Cities is well on its way to meeting its $325,000 goal,” said Charlie Powell, 2020 Campaign Chair.

This early support comes from Visit Fort Worth, as a Platinum member; Texas Health Resources and Rae & Mike Hyatt as Premier members; and BNSF Railway, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP as Global members. Presidential members include Bank of Texas, Ciera Bank, Cook Children’s Healthcare System, Greg Jackson Law, Hillwood, Hilde & Helmut Horchler and Mary Palko.

100% of the Sister Cities’ board of directors are members and invite the community to join them in making Fort Worth a more culturally diverse city.

“Our business is people-to-people relationships, youth and adults alike. We do it well and want to do even more to benefit Fort Worth,” said Veronica Chavez Law, Board Chairwoman.

Funding and in-kind support from the City of Fort Worth (4% of Sister Cities’ budget) plays a key role in its mission, but most work is made possible through public support like that received through the Members Circle of Giving.

To support Fort Worth Sister Cities and join the 2020 Members Circle, contact Katie Wharry at 817-632-7101 or

Youth Ambassadors Selected for 2020

Congratulations to all the students who were selected for Youth Ambassador exchanges in 2020! Students go through a rigorous application and interview process before being selected for travel to one of our sister cities. After selection, students attend cultural orientations to prepare for travel abroad and to get to know the culture of their destination.

A special congratulation to Will Lourcey who received the Yamagata Emerging Leader Scholarship for his excellence in community service and leadership. Lourcey will be using the scholarship to travel to Reggio Emilia, Italy in the spring.

Budapest, Hungary – March 7-15

  • Evan Bazikov, All Saints Episcopal School
  • Rowan Kliethermes, Trinity Valley School
  • Morgan McCullough, Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences
  • John Nolan, Paschal High School
  • Leah Peterson, I.M. Terrell High School
  • Nate Scott, Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences
  • Nevaeh Vega, North Side High School
  • Haleema Williams, Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences
Delegation Leaders
  • Jane Card, Marine Creek Collegiate High School
  • Nicole Vallee, Tarrant County College

Nagaoka, Japan – June 21-30

  • Keira Aguirre, Trimble Tech High School
  • Gabriela Barrientos, Diamond Hill Jarvis High School
  • Eren Collins, Arlington Heights High School
  • Hawaii Guerin, Wedgewood Middle School
  • Nayeli Loredo, Marine Creek Collegiate High School
  • Madison Martinez, Benbrook High School
  • Liberty Mata, Home School
  • Isabelle Planty, McLean Middle School
  • Jennifer Tavera, Marine Creek Collegiate High School
  • Karina Torres, Marine Creek Collegiate High School
  • Patsy Torres, World Languages Institute
  • Niklas Yanez, Arlington Heights High School
Delegation Leaders
  • Dawnelle Butler, Westlake Academy
  • Kendall Lake

Nagaoka, Japan Harashin Scholars – July 24-Aug.3

  • Karen Ayala, Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences
  • Jameson Bauer, Westlake Academy
  • Jude Butler, Westlake Academy
  • Katherine Gallardo, Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences
  • Nicole Helms, Westlake Academy
  • Garin Kelly, I.M. Terrell High School
  • Nyasha Muwalo, Chisholm Trail High School
  • Noah Reyes, North Crowley High School
  • Girah Lundy-Joseph, MacArthur High School
  • Haleema Williams, Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences
Delegation Leaders
  • Dianna Alexander, Arlington Heights High School
  • Kimberly Kowalski, Fort Worth Academy

Nîmes, France – March 7-15

  • Gwendolen Bruce, Southwest High School
  • Alyssa Campbell, Arlington Heights High School
  • DJ Carter, Arlington Heights High School
  • Carol Lee Dewar, Paschal High School
  • Ernesto Duran, Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences
  • Elisa Duran, Marine Creek Collegiate High School
  • Kendall Fernandez, Trimble Tech High School
  • Alicia Flores, Nolan Catholic High School
  • Isabella Flores, Nolan Catholic High School
  • Mary Faith Fraire, Saginaw High School
  • XiXi Hillman, Fort Worth Country Day School
  • Randito Howard, Uplift Summit International Preparatory Academy
  • Emme Nelson, Arlington Heights High School
  • Lauryn Roberts, Fort Worth Country Day School
  • Gabriela Urbina, Marine Creek Collegiate High School
Delegation Leaders
  • Andreanne Annis, Fort Worth Country Day
  • Rob Napier, Fort Worth Country Day
Associate Delegation Leader
  • Natalie Bauman, University of Texas at Arlington

Reggio Emilia, Italy – March 7-15

  • Daisy Aguilar, Northside High School
  • Ashia Bah, Marine Creek Collegiate High School
  • Ashlynn Bouldin, Westlake Academy
  • Emily Carrillo, Haltom High School
  • Hayden Flowers, Westlake Academy
  • Yessica Gonzalez, Marine Creek Collegiate High School
  • Erin Guy, Westlake Academy
  • Lilian Hicks, Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences
  • Will Lourcey, Paschal High School
  • Alison Pak, Westlake Academy
Delegation Leaders
  • Tracey Cravens, Northside High School
  • Cindy Vasquez, City of Fort Worth
Associate Delegation Leader
  • Daniel Orr, University of Texas

Toluca, Mexico – March 7-15

  • Aidan Brock, Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts
  • Jude Butler, Westlake Academy
  • Bela Gomez, Nolan Catholic High School
  • Valdemar Gomez, Nolan Catholic High School
  • Azael Hernandez, I.M. Terrell High School
  • Bronwyn Logan, Crowley High School
Delegation Leaders
  • James Gleaton, Tarrant County College
  • Danielle McCown, Fort Worth Sister Cities International

Trier, Germany – May 31-June 13

  • Eric Borrman, Trinity Valley School
  • Gilian Conlan, Paschal High School
  • Tatum Duncan, Trinity Valley School
  • Emma Eppstein, Paschal High School
  • Erin Fishman, Fort Worth Country Day
  • Kale Graves, Fort Worth Country Day
  • Priscilla Gutierrez, Diamond Hill Jarvis High School
  • Leslie Hernandez, Marine Creek Collegiate High School
  • Whitt Horton, Trinity Valley School
  • Peren Lopez, Trinity Valley School
  • Elizabeth Martinez, Arlington Heights High School
  • Gabriel Massingill, All Saints Episcopal High School
  • Malinda Murphey, Fort Worth Country Day
  • Catherine Zarr, Trinity Valley School
Delegations Leaders
  • Chelsy Merrill, Fort Worth Country Day
  • Dr. Michael Roemer, Trinity Valley School

Leadership Academy Headed to Japan For 30th Anniversary

FORT WORTH, TX – Since 1989, the International Leadership Academy has brought young people from Fort Worth’s nine sister cities to the area to discuss pressing global issues. This year, Fort Worth Sister Cities is taking the Academy to Nagaoka, Japan as we celebrate this dynamic summer leadership program’s 30th anniversary.

A select number of students from Fort Worth were selected to participate in an Advanced Leadership Academy with other students from eSwatini, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, and Japan. This year’s theme, Peace through Innovation, will encourage students to explore and focus on critical and current issues. Through the program they will gain essential leadership and communication skills through cross-cultural activities such as art, music, and language studies.

Participants will live stay with host families in Nagaoka. During the day, they will attend classes that are designed to challenge stereotypes, highlight cultures, promote diplomatic dialogue, develop leadership skills, and solve global problems. Activities will also include visits to area businesses, museums, and other cultural venues, as well as a community service project.

“The students will be challenged to improve and refine their leadership skills and learn how diverse cultures can support common goals. It’s a tremendous opportunity for personal growth,” said Nancy Marchant, Leadership Academy Coordinator.

The Fort Worth students depart on Aug. 1 and will spend a few days in Tokyo for orientation. Then, on Aug. 5 everyone will convene in Nagaoka for several days of team-building and problem-solving using diplomacy. The students return to Fort Worth on Aug. 11.

Fort Worth Wins Innovation Award for Business and Trade

HOUSTON, TX – Fort Worth, Texas has won the Sister Cities International 2019 Innovation Award for Business and Trade for a city with a population greater than 100,000. The awards competition, which is open to over 500 sister city programs nationwide, recognizes the accomplishments of outstanding individuals and community sister city programs that are promoting peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation.

In the fall of 2018, Fort Worth Sister Cities International and Wild Acre Brewing Co. collaborated with the city of Trier, Germany to introduce the first-ever collaborative beer at the 5th annual Oktoberfest in Fort Worth. The brew master from German-based Kraft Bräu brewery in Trier attended and tapped the keg of the collaborative beer called Wild Acre Kraft Haus Lager. Similarly, Fort Worth companies Best Maid Pickles and Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. both found a natural partner in Nagaoka, Japan. Both companies brought samples of their products to Japan and a tasting was arranged with members of Nagaoka’s Chamber of Commerce small business group.

“We all stand to learn from these superstar Sister City programs as they impact their communities across a broad range of sectors that include business entrepreneurship, youth leadership, and arts and culture,” said Roger-Mark De Souza, Sister Cities International’s President & CEO. “These individuals and local organizations inspire us to be better citizens as their work exemplifies President Eisenhower’s vision of engaged international citizen diplomats. They create beneficial connections and lasting relationships which will help their communities today and for years to come.”

Sister Cities International Annual Awards recognize excellence in overall programming and highlight key innovations in arts and culture; business and trade; humanitarian assistance; youth and education; and professional and technical exchange categories. All award winners were honored during Sister Cities International’s 2019 Annual Conference from July 17-19 in Houston, Texas.

Sister Cities and Oktoberfest Fort Worth Introduce “Bier” Collaboration

New initiative hopes to launch more commerce between Trier, Germany and Fort Worth

Fort Worth Sister Cities International, Wild Acre Brewing Co. and sister city Trier, Germany are partnering to introduce the first-ever collaborative “bier” at the Fort Wurst Corporate Night, on September 26 at The Shack on Panther Island. This new festival preview will kick off the fifth annual Oktoberfest Fort Worth. The brewmaster from Trier-based Kraft Bräu brewery will be part of the team to tap the keg of the collaborative beer called Wild Acre Kraft Haus Lager.

The project is an effort to encourage and grow business exchange opportunities between Trier and Fort Worth. With the craft beer industry growing in both regions, Christian Luxem, director of Trier City Council’s Business Development came up with the idea of the “Bier project” a craft beer collaboration that could provide an opportunity for international idea and product exchange.

“Such a project can contribute to promote the bilateral economical relations between the two cities,” says Luxem.

The recipe for Wild Acre Kraft Haus was developed by Kraft Bräu brewery and brewed by Wild Acre in Fort Worth. The two brewmasters stayed in constant contact to ensure the beer was brewed in Fort Worth, but stayed true to the German taste and standards. The beer is 5.3 % ABV and combines traditional German lager brewing techniques, and some American hop varietals to blend the two cultures in the form of a hoppy lager.

“The partnership between Wild Acre and Kraft Bräu is another wonderful cultural exchange between our two cities,” said Mayor Betsy Price, City of Fort Worth. “The beer collaboration is an opportunity to learn from each other, promote global economic development, and build a platform for businesses to think globally. That’s what it’s all about – creating connections and expanding Fort Worth’s international profile.”

Wild Acre Brewing has been invited to participate in the same type of beer collaboration at the 2019 Trier craft beer festival. Organizers hope this will serve as a starting point for more business collaboration between Trier and Fort Worth.

Wild Acre Kraft Haus will be the featured beer in the Tapping of the Kegs ceremony kicking off Fort Wurst, Oktoberfest Fort Worth’s new Corporate Night on September 26. Attendees of the event will have the chance to try the beer exclusively available that evening. Corporations or individuals can purchase a table of eight for a private evening of culture and celebration, complete with a plated German meal from Reata Haus, entertainment, beer and more! To learn more about purchasing a Fort Wurst table, visit


About Oktoberfest Fort Worth: Oktoberfest Fort Worth will take place September 27 – 29 at Panther Island Pavilion in Fort Worth. Festival patrons will enjoy authentic German food, music, dancing, games, rides, biergartens, dachshund races & shopping as well as Spaten and other fall and Oktoberfest craft beers. Fort Wurst is a new corporate night kicking off the festival on September 26. Both events are produced by the Trinity River Vision Authority (TRVA) responsible for the implementation of a public infrastructure project which fosters the development of an urban waterfront neighborhood in Fort Worth called Panther Island. TRVA aims to attract business and entertainment to the district and is in charge of programming public spaces including Panther Island Pavilion.

About Fort Worth Sister Cities International: Fort Worth Sister Cities International, a 501c3 nonprofit, is the only organization dedicated solely to promoting Fort Worth globally and enriching our community through international education, exchange and commerce. We provide a world of opportunities for our city leaders, citizens, educators, students and businesses alike. Founded in 1985, Fort Worth has eight sister city relationships, and intends to form our ninth in 2019. The relationship with Trier, Germany was formed in 1987 and celebrated our 40th anniversary last year.

About Kraft Bräu: Kraft Bräu was founded in 1998 as the first microbrewery in Trier, five years after the closure of the last brewery in town. Patrick Weirich, the first brewer, started with the three Kraft Bräu classics: lager, dark and wheat beer, focusing on pure handmade craft brewing. In 2010 the Kraft Bräu team started to brew beside the classics seasonal specials like an IPA, different pale ales and bocks. It was CEO Klaus Tonkaboni and Sebastian Nguyen, head brewer and licensed beer sommelier, who started the new and exciting era. In October 2014, Kraft Bräu organized Trier’s first craft beer festival which was a huge success. Kraft Bräu has passion for beer and an addiction to real craft brewing.

About Wild Acre Brewing Co.: Wild Acre Brewing Co. opened its doors in June of 2016 to brew and sell the highest quality craft beers available throughout North Texas. Wild Acre has become known for a number of its beers including Billy Jenkins Bock, Texas Blonde and T-Hawk IPA. These beers, among other flavors, can be found in bars, restaurants and retail outlets throughout Dallas/Fort Worth, in addition to being served at their brewery/taproom and beer garden entertainment facility located in the former Ranch Style Beans building situated between East Lancaster and East Vickery on the southeast edge of Downtown Fort Worth. Beer lovers of Fort Worth have helped Wild Acre grow into one of the top 30 largest craft breweries in Texas after two short years in business.

Students Bring Home Gold and Bronze Medals From Italy

Fort Worth, TX – Sister Cities youth athletes represent Fort Worth and the USA!

Nearly 80 student athletes and coaches just returned from a week of competition at the Tricolore Youth Sports Games in Reggio Emilia, Italy winning three gold and one bronze medal in baseball and volleyball.

The athletes and coaches will be recognized at the Fort Worth City Council meeting Aug. 14 at 7:00 pm to report on the games and display the medals they won.

The Sports Ambassadors competed and lived in an Olympic-style village with student athletes from thirty other countries representing Fort Worth and the USA through positive sportsmanship and goodwill. The games created a chance for these athletes to convey a positive impression of American youth to other people from around the world.

“The programs sponsored by Sister Cities have a broad appeal offering international experiences you can’t get as casual tourists,” said Sister Cities Sports Games Chair Michael Jacobsson. “The student athletes will remember this trip for the rest of their lives.”

The Tricolore Games are held every four years in Reggio Emilia, Italy and Fort Worth is the only city in the US invited to participate.

Youth Ambassadors Represent Fort Worth in Japan

Fort Worth, TX – Sister Cities provides unique opportunity for students

Since 1990, The Harashin Co. of Nagaoka, Japan has funded scholarships for eight Fort Worth students and two teachers to travel there for an educational and cultural enrichment experience. In return, the families of these Fort Worth students host students and teachers from Nagaoka in their homes.

This program and all the scholarships have been funded by the Hara family and Harashin Co. Ltd. of Nagaoka. For 27 years, it is estimated that over $2 million has been generously donated benefiting Fort Worth families.

Fort Worth Harashin scholars include Rebecca Cichock, Samantha Cruz, William Dibble, Priscilla Gutierrez, Imani Kayembe, Katey Parham, Emily Pruitt, and Brigit Teschendorf; and will be led by Delegation Leaders Dawnelle Butler and Nicole Vallee.

“Exchange programs are a key element in the overall programs of Fort Worth Sister Cities and this unique opportunity for students is no exception,” said Johnny Campbell, Chairman of Fort Worth Sister Cities International. The students depart July 27 for a week-long exchange and the Japanese students will be in Fort Worth August 9-17.

All student applicants (9th-11th grades) participate in a vigorous selection process including teacher recommendations, essays and personal interviews. The Harashin Scholars are required to attend monthly cultural orientations to further enrich their international experience and prepare them for the exchange.

Exchanges with each of Fort Worth’s eight sister cities provide youth the opportunity to spend 9-15 days with an international host family and experience their history, culture and customs. These students become citizen diplomats through this program. It gives them a better understanding of other cultures providing them an international education only these programs can offer.

International Students Attend Leadership Academies

Fort Worth, TX: Meet the World in Fort Worth, Theme of Academies

High school students from around the world will descend on Fort Worth starting July 12. Students from eSwatini, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, and Mexico, along with Fort Worth students, will be in Fort Worth for the 29th International Leadership Academy (ILA). The Academy’s goal is to increase communication and leadership skills through teambuilding and problem-solving using diplomacy.

Since 1989, the ILA has brought young people from Fort Worth’s eight sister cities to the area to discuss pressing global issues. This year, nearly 90 participants will converge at Texas Christian University (TCU) July 12 – 26 to share their cultures and learn about citizen diplomacy and its importance.

Participants will live on the TCU campus and share a room with students from another country. They will attend classes that are designed to challenge stereotypes, highlight cultures, promote diplomatic dialogue, develop leadership skills, and solve global problems. Activities will also include visits to area businesses, museums, and other cultural venues specific to Fort Worth, as well as a community service project.

This year marks the 14th year of ILA’s middle school program, the Jr. International Leadership Academy (JILA) held July 9 – 13. College students from Toluca, Mexico will serve as facilitators for Fort Worth students who will discuss the same issues as their high school counterparts, gaining international perspectives.

“The students will be challenged to improve and refine their leadership skills and learn how diverse cultures can support common goals. It’s a tremendous opportunity for personal growth,” said Nancy Marchant, ILA and JILA Coordinator.

The closing ceremony for ILA will take place July 25, 6:30 p.m. at TCU’s BLUU Ballroom and is free and open to the public. For more info call 817/632-7100.